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Intelligent Edge innovation across data, IoT, and mixed reality

We are at an incredibly exciting technology inflection point. The virtually limitless computing power of the cloud, combined with increasingly connected and perceptive devices at the edge of the network, create possibilities we could only have dreamed of just a few years ago – possibilities made up of millions of connected devices, infinite data, and the ability to create truly immersive multi-sense, multidevice experiences.

While much attention has been paid to the cloud innovations, the advancements at the edge are becoming equally remarkable. And, of course, the experiences built using the cloud and edge together are what become truly transformative. The intelligent cloud and intelligent edge application pattern, transforms the way we can interact with digital information and further blend the physical and digital worlds for greater societal benefit and customer innovation.

Today’s announcements put us a few steps closer toward these outcomes:

  • Azure SQL Database Edge – A small footprint database engine optimized for the edge, with AI built-in
  • IoT Plug and Play – Connect IoT devices to the cloud without writing any code
  • HoloLens 2 Development Edition – All the tools needed to get started building mixed reality experiences

Azure SQL Database Edge

In our work to address the unique requirements for data security and analytics on the edge, we are excited to announce the preview of Azure SQL Database Edge, which brings to the edge the same performant, secure, and easy to manage SQL engine that our customers love in Azure SQL Database and SQL Server. This new offering also adds capabilities that are optimized for edge scenarios, including:

  • Support for Arm and x64-based interactive devices and edge gateways.
  • Low latency analytics on the edge by combining data streaming and time-series, with in-database machine learning and support for graph data. 
  • Industry leading security capabilities that Azure SQL Database offers to protect data at rest and in motion on edge devices and edge gateways. Manage security policies and updates from a central management portal such as Azure IoT Central.
  • Ability to develop applications once and deploy anywhere by having a common programming surface area across Azure SQL Database, SQL Server on-premises, and Azure SQL Database Edge.
  • Support for both cloud connected and fully disconnected edge scenarios. Gain cloud scale by connecting edge scenarios to Azure. Enable fully disconnected edge scenarios with local compute and storage.
  • Supports business intelligence with Microsoft Power BI and other BI tools.

Join the Early Adopter Program to access the preview and get started building your next intelligent edge solution.

HoloLens 2 Development Edition

When the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge are imbued with mixed reality and artificial intelligence, we have a framework for achieving amazing things and empowering even more people. Enabling intelligent cloud and intelligent edge solutions requires a new class of distributed, connected applications that will deliver break-through business outcomes. Now all the pieces are coming together.

From construction sites to factory floors, from operating rooms to classrooms, mixed reality powered by AI, are changing how we work, learn, communicate, and get things done moving us beyond the 2D worlds of the PC and smartphone into third wave of computing.   

To help catalyze this third wave of computing, we are expanding our Mixed Reality Developer Program. Over the past year, we have engaged with more than 20,000 mixed reality developers, a number we expect to more than triple in the coming 12 months. To serve the needs of a larger audience, we are investing in more meetups, programs, events, and hacks (including our Mixed Reality Dev Days that is happening now) with an increased focus on serving the mixed reality dev community on a global scale.   

In addition to serving today’s global mixed reality development community, we are expanding the program to educate and build the mixed reality developers of the future. To support developers in this journey, we’re excited to announce the HoloLens 2 Development Edition.

Available through the Mixed Reality Developer Program, the Development Edition brings together all the tools developers needed to get started:

  • HoloLens 2 mixed reality device
  • $500.00 in Azure credits – To jump start your mixed reality development using Azure mixed reality services
  • 3-month free trials of Unity Pro and the Unity PiXYZ Plugin for CAD data

Bringing together HoloLens 2, Azure Mixed Reality Services, and Unity Pro, the most widely used real-time 3D development platform, makes it easy for developers to create professional mixed reality experiences using your industrial design data. The PiXYZ Plugin gives you the tools to create real-time experiences using Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) or Building Information Management (BIM) data.

“Pairing HoloLens 2 with Unity’s real-time 3D platform enables industrial businesses to create immersive, interactive experiences that accelerate business and reduce costs.” – Tim McDonough, GM of Industrial – Unity

Ready to jump in and start developing today? Join the Mixed Reality Developer Program.

Visit to learn more about the HoloLens 2 Development Edition and sign up to stay updated about latest news, mixed reality toolkits, code samples, and open source projects.  

IoT Plug and Play

One of the biggest challenges in building IoT solutions is to connect millions of IoT devices to the cloud due to the heterogeneous nature of devices today, such as different form factors, processing capabilities, operational system, memory, and capabilities.

IoT Plug and Play offers a new, open modeling language to connect IoT devices to the cloud seamlessly. With IoT Plug and Play, developers can connect IoT devices to the cloud without having to write a single line of embedded code. IoT Plug and Play also enables device manufactures to build smarter IoT devices that just work with the cloud.

In the past, Microsoft introduced the Plug and Play technology that allowed PC users to quickly connect peripherals without having to perform complex hardware and software configurations. Similarly, with IoT Plug and Play, Microsoft is simplifying IoT to accelerate adoption for enterprises who will be able to prototype and then move to full scale deployments much faster.

Today, we are announcing that cloud developers can find IoT Plug and Play enabled devices in our Azure IoT Device Catalog. The first wave includes dozens of devices from partners such as Compal, Kyocera, and STMicroelectronics.

Here is what a few partners in the IoT Plug and Play ecosystem have to say:

“IoT Plug and Play underlines our commitment to providing a streamlined and optimized deployment path for customers using the Microsoft Azure platform, a major advantage in today’s competitive and quickly evolving market.” – Richard Brown, VP of International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc.

“At Askey, we’re committed to adding leading and innovative technology to the smart mobility industry and ecosystem. Thanks to Microsoft’s IoT Plug and Play, and the Azure Certified for IoT program, IoT device application development management will never be the same.” – Robert Lin, CEO of Askey

“Thundercomm is excited to be cooperating with Microsoft Azure on end-to-end IoT solutions. As a highlight of our cooperation, Thundercomm TurboX Asset Tag makes it possible for enterprises to decide how to improve the utilization of their valued assets. With IoT Plug and Play, we will partner together with Microsoft to accelerate and simplify the integration and deployment of IoT devices.” – Larry Geng, Chairman, Thundercomm

List of partners

Discover even more possibilities with Azure IoT. Check the Building IoT Solutions with Azure: A Developer’s Guide to get started.

These are just a few of the many new innovations we are bringing to the edge. With our $5 billion, 4-year investment into the intelligent edge, you can be confident there is much more to come.

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